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Musselburgh Camera Club 56

14 January 2020 (Human Portrait Print Competition)

This week we had the digital replacement for our human portrait print competition. The competition was judged by Simon Wooton of Midlothian Camera Club. Click on the link below to see Simon’s gallery of landscape, sport and wildlife images.

Simon Wooton’s image gallery.

13 members had entered 38 digital images of people. There were portraits of individuals and group portraits. The group portraits worked better when they told a story of people interacting together, rather than just people who happened to be standing near to each other.  A group of people taking a selfie in the botanical gardens while their baby looks away bored out of shot told a story, as did the shot of two tired young girls in stained and crumpled party dresses sitting on the doorstep.  Simon particularly liked the shots of happy people enjoying life, as an antidote to the current situation. He expected shots taken in a studio to have a higher technical quality than spontaneous shots made in the street. Some portraits had distracting accessories, and Simon recommended hiding shoulder straps from bags that were not visible and removing objects that poked out from behind someone’s head. In some shots harsh lighting had lost detail in the highlights, or had cast a shadow onto the eyes, while other dull shots could be improved with a levels adjustment. Focussing and sharpness were an issue for some shots. It was important to focus on the subject and avoid camera shake, but also important not to oversharpen facial features. The framing of each image was important, and Simon suggested a tighter crop or a different placement of the background in some shots. Despite his enjoyment of the group shots, it was the individual portraits that won the day.

The top scorers were (in reverse order):

  • 5th place (47 points)
    • Gordon Davidson
    • Gavin Marshall
  • 4th place (49 points)
    • Steven Beard
  • 3rd place (50 points)
    • Joe Fowler
    • Steve Williams
  • 2nd place (52 points)
    • Mike Clark
  • 1st place (54 points)
    • George Todd
    • Carol Edmund

The top images were:

  • An Old Gentleman (Carol Edmund) – 20 points
  • Temple Boy (George Todd) – 19 points
  • I’m in Trouble (Mike Clark) – 19 points
  • Prabhu – Temple Warden (George Todd) – 18 points
  • The Joker (Mike Clark) – 18 points
  • The Basket Weaver (Steve Williams) – 18 points
  • Black Lives Matter (Carol Edmund) – 18 points

Well done to George Todd and an especially warm well done to Carol Edmund, who wins a trophy in only her second year at the club.

07 January 2020 (Set Subject Competition – Nature and Wildlife)

The second half of our 2020-2021 season opened with the first of our 3 set subject competitions: competition A on the subject of “Nature and Wildlife”. The competition was judged by Joe Fowler, one of last year’s winners.

45 images had been entered by 15 members.  Unlike last year’s competition on the theme of “Wildlife”, this year’s “Nature” category covers a wider variety of subjects showing or representing the natural environment. There were a lot of bird images, photographs of insects on flowers, some farm animals and a selection of other animals and plants.  Joe commented on composition, exposure and sharpness of each image. Some of the images were spoiled by distractions which Joe recommended the author clone out by copying textures from elsewhere in the image. Sticks, bright blobs and foreground blades of grass were notable distractions. Some images were a little overexposed, due to capturing them in full sunlight, which had burned out the highlights.  Joe recommended cloning texture to recover detail in lost highlights and using the dodge tool to bring up detail that had been lost in shadow. The best images were the ones that were well-framed, well-lit, had fewer distractions, were sharp in the right places but showed some movement where expected.

The top scorers were (in reverse order):

  • 5th place (49 points)
    • Carol Edmund
  • 4th place (50 points)
    • Mike Clark
  • 3rd place (53 points)
    • George Todd
    • Gordon Davidson
    • Anne Yeomans
  • 2nd place (54 points)
    • Steve Williams
  • 1st place (56 points)
    • Malcolm Roberts

The top images were:

  • Green Violet-Ear Hummingbird (Steve Williams) – 20 points
  • Puffin With Sandeels (Anne Yeomans) – 20 points
  • Great Spotted Woodpecker (Malcolm Roberts) – 19 points
  • Nuthatch (Malcolm Roberts) – 19 points
  • Hornbill at Sunset (George Todd) – 19 points
  • Hover Fly (Gordon Davidson) – 19 points

Well done to Malcolm Roberts, who wins the right to judge next year’s competition.

This is the first in a 3-part competition. The next instalments are “Landscapes” (hand-in date 21st January 2021) and “Flowers and Horticulture” (hand-in date 4th March 2021). The final result depends on the total score from the best 2 competitions, with Malcolm, Steve, George, Gordon and Anne now standing at the top of the league table.

10 December 2020 (Black and White Print Competition)

On Thursday, 10th December we had our virtual replacement for the black and white print competition. The competition was judged by Doug Berndt of Edinburgh Photographic society.  15 members had entered a total of 60 JPEG images. Doug explained that his job as judge was to put the images in a pecking order, and every judge has their own opinion. He judged each image on its composition, impact and story, together with any technical issues; although minor technical issues wouldn’t prevent a great image getting a good mark. He also judged how much creative input each photographer had used to make each image.

There were wildlife, nature, still life, landscape and portrait images, and some photographs of urban architecture. Doug commented on the overall sharpness and depth of field of each image, as well as its exposure and contrast. Some images could be improved by increasing the local contrast to cover a wider range of grey levels, as long as detail isn’t lost from the shadows or highlights. He also commented on the geometry and the textures each photographer had captured, or attempted to capture. For some of the urban shots he speculated whether a different viewpoint could have created a stronger image. Some macro shots needed a larger depth of field to capture more detail, and some shots had been over-sharpened. Doug also pointed out bright distractions which could be darkened, and suggested a vignette to pull attention away from the edge of the edge of a shot and back to a central subject. But Doug was impressed by the overall quality of the entries and awarded a lot of high marks.

The top scorers were (in reverse order):

  • 5th place (49 points)
    • Steven Beard
    • John West
  • 4th place (50 points)
    • Sean Conner
    • Gordon Davidson
  • 3rd place (52 points)
    • Jennifer Davidson
  • 2nd place (53 points)
    • Mike Clark
    • Steve Williams
    • Elaine Gilroy
    • Carol Edmund
  • 1st place (55 points)
    • Joe Fowler
    • George Todd
    • Anne Yeomans

The top images were:

  • Withered Rose (Elaine Gilroy) – 20 points (and Doug’s best image of the night)
  • Eyes Front (George Todd) – 20 points
  • Hurricane (Mike Clark) – 20 points
  • Reflections (Carol Edmund) – 20 points
  • Otter with Dogfish (Anne Yeomans) – 20 points
  • The Farrier (Joe Fowler) – 19 points
  • The Forge (Joe Fowler) – 19 points
  • Storm over Lisbon (Steve Williams) – 19 points
  • Hands (John West) – 19 points

Well done to Joe, George and Anne for their joint win, and well done to Mike, Steve, Elaine, Carol and Jennifer, who all win medals. It looks like the club will have to increase its medal budget!

Human Portrait Competition – Change of Date

I have been informed that we had the wrong date for the Human Portrait competition on the syllabus. Simon Wooton could not make the original date of 28th January 2021. The competition was moved to 14th January 2021 but the syllabus on the web site was not updated. George informs me that the closing date was this Thursday, 10th December, but as this is too short notice for everyone Simon has agreed to receive our images next week instead.

So please start preparing your human portrait images and submit them to George by 17th December 2020.

Apologies for the mistake on the syllabus. It has been corrected.

 

03 December 2020 (International Dutch Members Evening)

This week we were joined by my good friends Hans van der Boom and Denise Gielen from the Netherlands. Denise began the evening by showing us some of her macro, wildlife and drone photography, including some stunningly beautiful kingfisher images and cleverly framed drone shots of colourful tulip fields.  Some of Denise’s wildlife shots were taken in Oostvaardersplassen, a park in Flevoland made from reclaimed land, and Amsterdamse Waterleidingduinen, a national park and nature reserve on the west coast. Hans enjoys travel photography and showed us a selection of photographs he had taken on travels throughout the world.  Hans finished his introduction with some cleverly-constructed indoor studio shots.

The Hans and Denise took us on a photographic tour of the Netherlands, showing us less visited places where we can experience Dutch scenery without being swamped by tourists.  Amsterdam is crowded with visitors each year, but Hans showed us the following less crowded towns which are similar to Amsterdam.  Click the links for more information:

When tourists visit the Netherlands they also want to see windmills, and Hans and Denise showed us some of the more photogenic windmill sites. For example:

But the Netherlands has more impressive structures than just windmills. Hans showed us the impressive architecture within the city of Rotterdam, and Denise showed us beautiful long exposure shots of the Ketelbrug in Flevoland and Hans his dramatic image of the Zeeland Bridge, the longest bridge in the Netherlands. You can also see some of the most iconic structures in the world in miniature in the Madurodam model village.

Of course, a visit to the Netherlands would not be complete without a visit to the impressively colourful tulip fields. The most famous of the tulip displays can be seen between March and May every year at the Keukenhof Gardens near Lisse.  An even bigger and rarer event is the Floriade exhibition, which is coming to Amsterdam in 2022.

After Hans and Denise had finished, Mike Clark showed them some of his impressive underwater shots. Denise’s husband Niels photographs farming machinery for Agrifoto, an agricultural photography site, so Steven Beard finished with a selection of photographs from the Royal Highland Show.

Thank you very much to Hans and Denise for entertaining us, showing that with Zoom we can reach out to other clubs and photographers around the world.

 

26 November 2020 (Model Photography)

On 26th November 2020 we had our first virtual speaker of the year. Les Duff from Midlothian Camera Club joined our Zoom meeting to talk about his model photography. Les has had 40 years of experience in photography. He explained how he had got started in model photography, helping out a family member with a photoshoot and giving out business cards. Les now finds work with the aid of the following modelling and portfolio sites:

You can join these sites as a photographer or a model and describe the kind of work you are looking for. The site then shows you models or photographers who fit the criteria you are looking for. To join a site you need to submit a portfolio of images which meet the site’s standards. Les also showed us his own personal web sites:

Les likes landscape photography and prefers to take his shots outdoors. He showed us a variety of different shots taken in scenic locations such as Longniddry Bents, Hailes Castle and Colinton Dell. Les’ shots varied from fashion photography to nude, with nude being the most difficult to get right. Les prefers to do only minimal processing on each shot, preferring to get each shot right in camera. He will correct the white balance and levels but prefers not to apply a skin softening filter unless specifically requested. Most of Les’ outdoor shots are lit naturally, but he will use a reflector or fill-in flash to lighten shadows. Les uses prime lenses for the best quality (85mm for portraits and 45mm for whole body shots) and carries two camera bodies so he doesn’t waste time changing lenses. The best shots are usually taken looking horizontally at the model (Les often goes down on one knee to get the best angle). Shots looking up or down tend to be less flattering.

Les also showed us some of his indoor studio work. These have an entirely different feel from the outdoor shots: plain backgrounds and softer lighting. Les normally uses two softbox lights either side of the model to produce the soft lighting, but he also uses vertical strip lights to cast shadows and emphasise body contours. Occasionally he will recreate outdoor conditions indoors by (for example) using a single spotlight to simulate the beam cast by a street light.

Thank you to Les for visiting us, showing us your work and answering our questions.

 

25 November 2020 (4 Way Competition)

On 25th November 2020, Musselburgh Camera Club Members joined Stirling and District Camera Club, Edinburgh Photographic Society and Kirkcaldy Photographic Society for the annual 4-way interclub competition. This year, the competition was entirely digital and hosted virtually by Stirling using Zoom. The competition was judged by Eddie Telford of Milngavie and Bearsden Camera Club. 78 members attended most of the competition, with two more joining during the second half.

Each club had entered 15 images, making a total of 60 images on the night. Eddie gave us a thorough critique of each one, indicating its strengths and weaknesses. By the half-way stage Edinburgh were ahead of Kirkcaldy by 1 point, followed by Musselburgh 1 point behind them. The competition continued to be close, and the final result was decided by the very last image from each club! The final result was:

  • 1st = place, Edinburgh and Kirkcaldy (267 points).
  • 3rd place, Musselburgh (264 points)
  • 4th place, Stirling (259 points)

Edinburgh and Kirkcaldy were declared joint winners. Some disappointment right at the end for Musselburgh, but we held up well for most of the competition and ended only 3 points behind. The following Musselburgh images did particularly well in the competition:

  • Incoming (Mike Clark) – 20 points
  • Stormlight (Mike Clark) – 19 points
  • Bird on a Stick (Gordon Davidson) – 20 points
  • Fighting for the lead (George Todd) – 20 points

Congratulations to Edinburgh and Kirkcaldy and well done to Mike, Gordon and George. Next year’s competition will be hosted by Edinburgh Photographic Society.

 

12 November 2020 (Colour Print Competition)

This week we had our virtual replacement for the colour print competition. Members submitted the images they would have used as colour prints digitally. The competition was judged by Fiona Brims of Stirling and District Camera Club. You can see some of Fiona’s work at the link below.

https://www.fionabrimsphotography.co.uk/

Fiona was unable to join us by Zoom, so George Todd read out her comments. Fiona began with a letter telling us that judging the images had been difficult because there had been so many good entries. She had had to be pernickety in her judging to separate these images, but she explained this was just one person’s judgement. She was born in Musselburgh and was delighted to be judging for her old home town.

54 images had been entered altogether. There were landscapes, portraits, photographs of birds (which Fiona recognised by name from the World of Wings bird of prey centre) and close-ups of flowers and cacti. There were also some imaginative abstract images, some of which Fiona felt were more digital art than digital photography. Fiona commented on the composition and technical execution of each image. There were some images where a longer shutter speed could have given a more dynamic image of a moving target by adding motion blur, and there were other images of moving water where a shorter shutter speed would have prevented burn out. Some of the close-up images could have been improved by a smaller aperture and larger depth of field. Some images were let down by dust marks, noisy backgrounds or editing mistakes. Fiona didn’t like the ivory borders that some members had used and recommended that digital images should have borders no wider than 3 pixels.

The top scorers were (in reverse order):

  • 5th place (46 points)
    • Gordon Davidson
  • 4th place (48 points)
    • Sean Conner
  • 3rd place (50 points)
    • Joe Fowler
    • Malcolm Roberts
    • Steven Beard
    • Steve Williams
  • 2nd place (52 points)
    • George Todd
    • Mike Clark
    • Anne Yeomans
  • 1st place (53 points)
    • Jennifer Davidson

The top images were:

  • Rattray Head at Dusk (Steve Williams) – 20 points
  • Sparrowhawk (Jennifer Davidson) – 19 points
  • Pool Room (Joe Fowler) – 19 points
  • Hover Fly on Flower (Malcolm Roberts) – 19 points
  • Brown Hare Grazing (George Todd) – 19 points
  • Incoming (Mike Clark) – 19 points
  • Northern Gannet (Anne Yeomans) – 18 points

The fact that the top images are spread between so many members shows the consistent quality of the entries. Well done everyone, and an especially well done to Jennifer Davidson, who wins the trophy. My apologies to Anne Yeomans, whose superb image of a gannet catching a fish in mid air would have done better without the ivory border I had provided in my earlier post.

29 October 2020 (Members Show Their Work)

This week Steven Beard, Kevin Johnson and Gavin Marshall showed the photographs they had taken in the past year. Steven showed photographs he had taken on walks around Prestonpans during lockdown, revealing the hidden details you don’t normally see unless you have the opportunity to stay and look closely. Kevin also showed some lockdown images from Musselburgh and some pre-lockdown photographs of Glasgow and Amsterdam. Gavin Marshall shared the night shots he had taken on a rallying trip to the Isle of Mull and shots of Jodrell Bank telescope and Lindisfarne. Here are some links with more information on the subjects featured in the photographs:

It is time to start planning another socially distanced photoshoot. We have our next photoshoot roundup planned for 19th November 2020. It was suggested that Flanders Moss Nature Reserve would make a great location for landscape and wildlife photography. However, with the expected travel restrictions we will have to save that trip for another day and try something closer to home. 😦 We decided to go for Calton Hill and places in the east of Edinburgh. If you have the opportunity to visit Edinburgh in the next 3 weeks, capture some pictures to bring along. If travel restrictions prevent you from travelling to Edinburgh, take some local photographs with an Edinburgh theme, or find some Edinburgh photographs in your collection. I look forward to seeing what you bring along on 19th November.

In the meantime, we have a recorded lecture and colour print competition coming up…

 

22 October 2020 (International Swedish Members Evening)

We were delighted to welcome members of Mölnlycke Fotoclubb, Gothenburg to our very first international members evening. Connecting virtually by Zoom means we can meet up with other club members anywhere in the world. Our host for the evening was Jan Arell, the chair of Mölnlycke Fotoclubb.

Jan introduced us to a recent trip the club had made to Ramsvik, a small photogenic island on the west coast of Sweden about 150 km north of Gothenburg. The island has quite a stark appearance, with hard granite rocks making interesting shapes.  A blue sea, bright green algae and green lichen scattered amongst the rocks adds to the interest.  Jan showed us the pictures their members had taken during the visit. There were images of the sea, sky and rocks taken from different viewpoints. There was even a great shot of a curious polecat. The weirdly-shaped holes carved into the rocks by the sea gave an opportunity for numerous abstract compositions. The rocky textures also produced impressive black and white images, and some of the rocks were so shiny they looked almost metallic. There were a few houses on the island which featured in many of the photographs and helped to add more shapes and colours. There were also portraits showing common activities on the island, such as hiking, mountain biking and, of course, photography. The show finished with a view of the setting sun next to a wine glass.

Musselburgh camera club members returned the favour by showing Mölnlycke Fotoclubb members some of the pictures they have taken during last year’s visit to Gothenburg. We also showed them images of Seacliff Beach,  the Pentland Hills,  Rosslyn Chapel,  leaping salmon in Loch Achray,  The Kelpiesthe Magdalene Chapel in Edinburgh and Musselburgh to whet their appetite for a visit to Scotland once the travel and social restrictions are lifted. We finished the evening with a lovely chat. It was a pity we couldn’t share some tea and biscuits.

We will have another opportunity to meeting up with Mölnlycke Fotoclubb on 11th March when we have our Swedish Inter-club Competition.